A comprehensive guide focuses on the many variables in deciding to have a child.
In this revised edition of her nonfiction debut, clinical social worker Bombardieri walks readers through every aspect of the decision of whether or not to have a baby, a choice she rightly warns should not be made “lightly, by default, or by blind adherence to custom.” She tackles many of the most essential big-picture issues involving this matter, from whether or not it’s exclusively a woman’s choice to the decision’s alarming potential to “ruin your life” (as worried parents often warn). The fact that the author has had a large amount of experience dealing with all kinds of parents (and prospective parents) in all types of situations is quickly apparent in these pages, where all the basics are covered—questions of infertility, the possibility of adoption, the very real attractions of the childless life, and so on. The book likewise extends its reach to look at possible complications once the decision to have a baby is reached, everything from broad questions of general mental readiness for starting a family to the nitty-gritty of the various responsibilities, such as diaper-changing and mixing parenthood with work routines and career aspirations. Sections explore a wide array of options, including gay adoption and older parenting. In every case, relevant resources and challenges are clearly but not alarmingly examined.
Bombardieri handles her extensive amount of information in a readable and smoothly authoritative narrative voice from start to finish, whether she’s discussing volatile emotional questions (her emphasis on partners really working to understand each other before they commit to a baby is refreshing) or blunt medical options like sterilization. The book never shies away from the starker aspects of its subject, touching not only on dark topics like miscarriage, but also on the “poison vials” or negative stereotypes about giving birth. She analyzes the pros and cons of day care, in-home care, and caretakers, but she spends a commendably equal amount of time dealing with the vital emotional landscape of the parenting decision. Her advice doesn't overemphasize the enormous financial cost a baby entails. Monetary planning is placed on more or less equal footing with social and familial preparation, presenting a more rounded picture than many parenting books tend to do. And she can be bracingly direct, as when she addresses the prospect of single parenting: “You may not need a partner’s support, but you will need somebody’s. No happy, single parent truly parents alone.” The book’s steadfast insistence that prospective parents disconnect their choice from undue outside pressures (be they from family or society in general) will doubtless strike many readers as just the breath of fresh air they need. Indeed, the whole guide exhibits that kind of sharp, transparent counsel and good sense. The bibliography and resources section are extensive enough to give prospective parents dozens of avenues for further research, and the volume’s practical optimism will make it invaluable to its target audience. This is the kind of wise and balanced advice many readers have been searching for.
A warmly empathetic and wide-ranging manual for readers debating whether or not to have a baby.